Some brands have a hybrid business model — selling directly to their customers as well as through a network of partners and resellers. Others, however, sell exclusively through the channel.
According to Ted Plumis, VP of Channel, Business and Corporate Development at Exabeam, a channel-only approach has a number of benefits. For one, selling exclusively through the channel enables the cyber security vendor to collect customer feedback so that it can offer better experiences and solutions.
Exabeam also gathers partner feedback, which helps the company improve its channel program, as well as the company’s range of solutions. In this exclusive Q&A, Plumis discusses how the Exabeam channel program has evolved and how the company has benefitted from being a channel-driven organization.
Plumis: For the first two years, Exabeam focused strictly on product. In late Q1 2015, we released our Exabeam User Behavior Analytics Platform and began recruiting partners. Our goal has always been to focus on the right partners instead of the number of partners. For us, the right partners are those with a strong background in analytics, security information and event management/logging, Big Data and security. We will end 2015 with about 20 partners in the U.S. and EMEA, with a goal of 50 qualified partners in those markets by the middle of next year.
Plumis: Today, our channel program consists of two partnership levels: A standard reseller tier and a program for system integrators that would like to offer services based on Exabeam. We will be rolling out a multi-tier channel program for resellers in 2016, but for today we are focused on a small number of partners and making sure we provide them the resources and benefits commensurate with their investment in Exabeam.
Plumis: Our program has all the benefits you would expect from a security company doing business in the channel, including deal registration and joint marketing and sales assistance. We also have programs that are unique to Exabeam and to the security market. These additional benefits include a margin program that rewards partners before and after the sale, integration with our sales development process, services engagements and a 100% channel fulfillment model.
Plumis: Yes, all of the major components of our channel program have been guided by feedback from key partners. This includes features such as our discount structure, deal registration program, marketing and inside sales programs. As part of our on-boarding process, we ask partners which elements of the programs they use most often and what makes these programs effective in conjunction with the other vendors with which they work.
Plumis: Operating in a 100% channel model has been an integral part of Exabeam since its founding. We wanted to be sure we eliminated any potential conflicts in the field and let partners know that if they engage with us, we will be tightly integrated in joint accounts. This has allowed us to better serve our customers in a few key areas. For example, our customers rely on their partners to know how all the pieces of their security and network infrastructure fit together so that it operates as one integrated ecosystem versus random technologies.
As a vendor, we focus on building the best products in the market, and then we work with our partners to integrate these solutions into the customer network. Because of our rapid time to value and data framework, our partners have helped us to develop new use cases based on their customer needs, which we then have productized in the Exabeam platform.
Plumis: In 2016, we will continue partner recruitment and expand Exabeam’s channel footprint in EMEA and the Asia Pacific regions. We are also going to be very focused on two key areas: Enablement and demand generation. On the enablement side, we are focused on building tools that will help our partners become more self-sufficient and able to integrate Exabeam into their existing services and sales practices more easily. On the demand generation side, we will be creating even tighter relationships between our inside sales and marketing teams and our partners, so our partners become an extension of the corporate demand generation programs.